Longmont Astronomical Society

Educational and Community Outreach

Members of the Longmont Astronomical Society provide equipment and support for local schools, city and county recreation departments, Boy and Girl Scout groups, the U.S. Forest Service, and other organizations each year. This outreach comes in several forms:

  • LAS regularly scheduled star parties
  • Star parties specially requested by a group
  • Daytime star parties (for viewing the daytime moon, or for using telescopes with filters for safe viewing of sunspots, solar flares, prominences, etc.)
  • Depending on availability, an LAS member may be able to visit a class or group to discuss a project they're working on
  • Some members may be able to meet with teachers to help design an astronomy class
  • Our monthly meetings are open to the public. See our events calendar or home page for information on featured guest speakers.
  • The LAS has donated telescope kits to public libraries. All you need is a library card and a clear night. 

If your group is interested in having LAS members provide equipment and support for your event, please check our star party calendar and then contact our Coordinator with your request.

Guidelines for star parties supported by LAS

Timing

The best part of the month for star parties is near the first quarter moon. In general we do not support events that are near the full moon or the new moon. 

Friday nights are usually a good time for school events.

The event should begin about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset and end a couple hours later.

We will set up our telescopes at sunset; it usually takes us about 20 minutes to set them up and the same to pack them up.  We do not want or need any assistance in handling equipment.  

In Colorado, the evening sky is cloudy around 40% of the time so cancellation is always a possibility. Sometimes it's pretty obvious that an event should be cancelled, though sometimes not. We try to inform our volunteers at least 3 hours prior to the event if it is to be cancelled.  If that happens, we will try to reschedule the event if possible.

Location

You should choose a location that has reasonably clear views to the southeast, south and southwest. There should be no street lights that are less than a block away in the viewing direction. The glare from street lights is annoying for everyone and makes it very difficult for us to locate objects. If lighting at your location is excessive try contacting your city or county parks department for suggestions.

Keep in mind that some of our telescopes are large and quite heavy; some weigh a couple hundred pounds or more. It is important that we have nearby access to our vehicles for loading and unloading.

Typically we only support events that are less than 30 miles from Longmont. Otherwise the travel time and expense are excessive for our members.

Preparation

For school events, we suggest you have one adult volunteer for every 20 to 25 students. These volunteers can help with wait lines, remind students of viewing tips, arrange step stools for viewing, etc.

Please provide us with a rough estimate of the number of people attending so we can plan accordingly. We can handle a maximum of about 150 people per evening.

For classroom discussion prior to the event, we can provide information about the various objects the students will be seeing.

NASA’s Night Sky Network has information on how to enhance your viewing experience: NASA's Night Sky Network viewing tips

You can improve attendance at the star party with plenty of advance publicity. Remember to include a link to our website! 

Viewing tips

Enjoy the view, but don't touch the telescope lens or move the telescope.

Don’t use flashlights or smart phone lights in the viewing area. (Astronomers use red light filters when they need illumination.)

It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyesight to maximally adjust to the dark.

Ask questions-our astronomers are very knowledgeable, and they love to talk about their favorite topic!

Take enough time at the eyepiece for your vision to adjust to it (at least 5 seconds). Ask the astronomer for help if you are having trouble seeing through the eyepiece (this is normal).



Copyright Longmont Astronomical Society, 2019. All rights reserved.
The Longmont Astronomical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O.Box 806, Longmont, CO 80502-0806, USA

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